Aron Muci
Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies

Humanities Kansas Grant will support upcoming Caribbean studies symposium

Wed, 07/11/2018

LAWRENCE – Humanities Kansas recently awarded $2,500 to the Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies at the University of Kansas in support of the Unexpected Caribbean Symposium. This event is designed to expand the understanding of the Caribbean as a complex cultural, geographical and geopolitical space by fostering broad, provocative conversations about Caribbean arts, literature and films. Cécile Accilien, associate professor of Haitian studies, and Giselle Anatol, professor of English, serve as project co-directors. 

The Unexpected Caribbean Symposium is a two-day interdisciplinary event and an educator workshop for regional teachers focusing on art, culture and history of the archipelago, to take place Oct. 18-20 at KU.

Ulrick Jean-Pierre, a visual artist born in Haiti whose work explores the connections between the histories and cultures of Haiti and Louisiana, will be one of the keynote speakers. Jean-Pierre’s paintings will be on display at KU’s Spencer Museum of Art from Sept. 8 to Jan. 6 and will highlight the Mary Lou Vansant Hughes Haitian art collection, including pieces by Rigaud Benoît, Wilson Bigaud, Charles Ermistral (Thialy), Max Gerbier and Edith Stephane.

Apricot Irving, author of the memoir "Gospel of Trees" (2018), and Krista Thompson, Northwestern University professor of art history, will join Jean-Pierre as keynote speakers.

Scheduled events will provide opportunities for participants to engage in important dialogues beyond the university's walls for community-based conversations about the intricacies of Caribbean cultures and the effects of the Caribbean on other cultures and histories. The symposium will offer Kansans the opportunity to explore the diversity of the Caribbean through a variety of lenses, including through the eyes of Lawrence’s acclaimed native son, Langston Hughes. 

“Humanities Kansas supports projects that promote understanding,” said Julie Mulvihill, Humanities Kansas executive director. “This symposium will foster a deeper comprehension of communities on the local, national and global levels.”

Anatol said that that “a dialogue between visiting scholars, artists, KU faculty, students and community members is crucial right now when a superficial understanding of the region gets proliferated by the travel industry, mainstream media and others.”

Marta Caminero-Santangelo, director of the Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies, said that she is especially pleased for the center to be a sponsor of this important event.

“The Unexpected Caribbean offers a chance to really investigate aspects of Caribbean culture from multiple disciplinary perspectives and to dispel commonly held misconceptions,” she said.

Accilien, director of the Institute for Haitian Studies at KU, said, “People tend to see the Caribbean just as exotic islands that are either vacation destinations or the sites of natural disasters, but Caribbean societies have long been integral to U.S. history, economy and culture.”

The Unexpected Caribbean Symposium is a collaborative venture among the Association of Caribbean Women Writers & Scholars, KU’s Institute of Haitian Studies, the Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies, the Department of African & African-American Studies and the Department of English.

The KU Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies can be contacted for general information about the event at 785-864-4213 or

Humanities Kansas is an independent nonprofit spearheading a movement of ideas to empower the people of Kansas to strengthen their communities and our democracy. Since 1972, our pioneering programming, grants and partnerships have documented and shared stories to spark conversations and generate insights. Together with partners and supporters, the intent is to inspire all Kansans to draw on history, literature, ethics and culture to enrich their lives and serve the communities and state. Visit

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